Pianist Denman Maroney is a restless spirit, seeking new ways to express himself, joining careful structural compositional elements with free form, and the result is utterly perplexing and warm. I have listened more than a dozen times to this album in the past days and it is extremely difficult get familiar with it. Each time I listen to this record, it sounds different. It is hard to identify themes, or even structures in it, but the music is carefully crafted nevertheless : the rhythms and tempos are different for the various instruments in the quintet, and so is the harmonic development. It is at times puzzling for the listener: once you focus on one thing, the other parts seem to escape attention, and vice versa. A kind of musical "trompe l'oeil" with ever ongoing shifts and differing perspectives. Musical time becomes a relative thing. On top of that, Maroney uses his hyperpiano extensions: anything that is handy to give his strings a different sound color will do: slides and bows of metal, rubber, plastic, brass bowls, CD jewel cases, tape cassette boxes, you name it. But the brilliant thing about Maroney's approach is that his music sounds great. In contrast to many experimenters, the music still prevails here, and how. With a band consisting of Ned Rothenberg on clarinet and sax, Dave Ballou on trumpet, Reuben Radding on bass and Michael Sarin on drums, what more do you want? And I think you would need such technically gifted musicians to bring Maroney's musical concept to a good end, and adding some. It must have required great efforts of concentration for them, yet the quality of the improvisations is such that all five musicians dance their way through even the most difficult parts. And despite all the complexity, the album is great fun. It is serious at times, but Maroney does not take himself too seriously. And because of the different tempi, it funks too at times. Music for the mind, heart and body. And like any good music, its quality increases with each listen. More joy to come.
Listen to an extract from Udentity 1